It gives New York nothing less than a new spiritual heart. That’s to say it creates an exalted, austere public space, at once like the prow of a ship and a retreat for meditation. It’s a memorial, perhaps naïvely optimistic but uplifting and confident, unlike the one at ground zero. It is as solemn as the Roosevelt wartime speech it honors, a call to safeguard the freedoms of speech and worship and the freedoms from want and fear. From inside the great, open granite enclosure that Kahn called the “room” at the tip of the island, a long fly ball away from the United Nations, a visitor looks out over the city and the churning waters of the East River in the direction of the Statue of Liberty, the ocean and Europe. It is the long view that Roosevelt had for America.
In this respect the park is probably the closest Kahn came to pure abstract art, a virtual walk-in sculpture that does more than honor the 32nd president and bring to life a neglected but symbolic stretch of prime shorefront on an island soon to be transformed by a Cornell University campus. A tapered lawn and flanking allées of littleleaf linden trees converge from atop a 100-foot-wide ceremonial staircase, pointing toward the tip of the island as if stretching toward infinity.
I’d love to see this - tones of the Salk - some of the most elegant public architecture I’ve seen, and so typical of Kahn.
Source: The New York Times